I spent last week in beautiful Orlando, Florida at the WQA Aquatech international conference and trade show.
This year’s show was at the well-equipped Orange County Convention Center which is conveniently located close to the airport and within 20 minutes of downtown Orlando. Attendance felt about the same or slightly more than last year’s show, but I noticed that most of the vendors and dealers were a lot more optimistic about their financial future than they were last year.
I had a number of vendor and committee meetings to attend so didn’t get to spend too much on the actual show floor, but I did spend enough time to get a pretty good handle on the exhibits. Overall, nothing groundbreaking from last year, with the exception of the new Water DOG residential model which is a scaled-down version of the HD. Educational classes were good overall, and I presented a session on Corrosion (I’ll post the PowerPoint presentation and notes in a separate article soon).
One thing worth addressing is the prevalence of Pentair knock-offs that were displayed at the show. These copycat products are almost identical clones of genuine Fleck products (imitation is the sincerest form of flattery?) made in China and distributed via vendors here in the USA and in Canada. This burgeoning clone industry is very concerning to me, since internal parts from the cloned products will fit inside a genuine Fleck valve body which will undoubtedly result in a number of warranty and service headaches for dealers who might buy knockoff parts from unscrupulous OEM’s without even realizing it. What is the future of the clone industry – who knows? In today’s troubled economy, many dealers might be tempted to use knock-off parts in a misguided attempt to “save a buck”, but I fear that they would be making a big mistake. I buy only genuine Pentair product made in the USA, and there is no way that I would stake my reputation, the integrity of my customer’s job-site or the health and safety of a consumer on a knockoff product made in a country with a reputation for less than stellar quality control or concern for customer health & safety.
Trade-show floor presentations were very informative and entertaining. Steve Fox from Next Filtration made an extremely informative presentation about Physical Water treatment Devices. While Steve represents ScaleStop media, his presentation was very neutral an unbiased, emphasizing on meeting the needs of the client and ensuring that technologies are used appropriately for each application.
One of my favorite formal presentations was Friday morning’s “How to effectively market the softened water energy study (aka Battelle Study)” presented by Robert A. Hague, Sam Karge, Vince Kent, and Eric Rosenthal. The presentation outlined the findings of the study and how best to communicate the energy efficiency and “green” environmental benefits of water improvement technology. The “take-away” from this study is that water softeners (devices that physically remove calcium and magnesium hardness) are very good for the environment and will help homeowners, business, and industry in preserving resources, protecting the environment, and saving money. Obviously chloride discharge is another issue for another discussion. I’ll post additional notes later about the definitive data presented in the study.
Next year’s WQA Aquatech will be hosted in San Antonio, Texas – See you there!